The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (14:53): My question is to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. Will the minister update the council on programs to support health care in the community?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:54): I thank the honourable member for his question. There were many significant problems with Labor's disastrous Transforming Health experiment. The select committee in this place inquiring into health services has pages and pages of evidence showing its problems, both in implementation and results.
One consistent criticism of Transforming Health was its focus on hospitals to the detriment of other health services. The result of that narrow focus is evident in the pressures being evidenced in the emergency departments of our major metropolitan hospitals, and the Hon. Connie Bonaros has already referenced those problems in her explanation to an earlier question.
The Marshall Liberal government is investing in community-based care as part of our broader work to repair the public health system. Today, I was able to announce the development of a statewide Home Hospital program to support the provision of hospital-level care to South Australians in their homes or in their communities. Home Hospital will build on the success of several pilot programs that have already given care for more than 400 South Australians to date this year.
For example, the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network has partnered with the Royal District Nursing Service to provide people with out-of-hospital support. The Northern Adelaide Local Health Network has partnered with the GP-led service Pop-Up Community Care to link 156 patients to GPs and community services, and in the north-east and north the Geriatrics in the Home program is providing care for older South Australians, freeing up an estimated 16 beds daily at Modbury and Lyell McEwin hospitals.
Collectively, these pilot programs have freed up hundreds of occupied bed days, relieving pressure on our emergency departments while successfully demonstrating that community-based acute care can deliver high-quality, sustainable care that is welcomed by patients. The Home Hospital initiative will aim to expand this community-based care significantly; it is hoped that by 2021 the program will deliver around 200 hospital-level beds in the community.
In addition to the general benefits to patients resulting from receiving treatment in their own homes, where the familiar and comfortable surroundings positively impact a person's overall wellbeing and improve treatment outcomes, there is the added benefit for older patients that hospital stays often worsen their overall condition, involving prolonged bed rest that decreases muscle strength. The Home Hospital program will seek to support patients in their home for a range of situations and contexts, using technology solutions to improve access, such as allowing clinicians to oversee care remotely.
The program acknowledges and builds on the importance of intervening early to prevent illness and deliver care focussed on the patient. The benefits extend beyond the individuals who receive treatment through reducing pressure on our metropolitan hospitals. This rebalancing of the health system will help drive down the cost for South Australian taxpayers while delivering better care across the board to those in hospital as well as those in their homes.
This is delivering on the Marshall Liberal government's commitment to improve health services in South Australia. There is no one silver bullet, but the Marshall Liberal government is working to fix Labor's mess, and I look forward to the Home Hospital program helping in that recovery.